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Thailand | Learn To Read Thai - Tutorial 17

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Learn To Read Thai - Tutorial 17

Review

I have tried not to overwhelm anyone who is starting out learning how to read basic Thai. We started with a few simple consonants and vowels and then made a few simple words with those simple characters. Next, we added a few more consonants and vowels to the ones we already had we made a few more words.

Reading basic Thai is almost a two-stage process because once you've figured how to read the fonts used in text books, you then need to learn how to read the fonts used in signs. That's why I have included photos of real signs in the tutorials so you can practice reading these as well.

In just 16 short tutorials we have covered enough material for you to be able to read a huge amount. As I have been walking around recently I have been paying more attention to signs than usual and 80% of what I have seen can be read with what we have covered so far.

In some tutorials I will cover consonants, in other vowels, in others tones, and in others special symbols and rules. When we have covered everything, I will just add some real-life photos for you to practice with some guidelines and references back to the relevant tutorials.

With a little effort, you should be reading Thai quite well within two or three months. After that, the more you practice the faster you get.

Memorising everything is extremely important, of course. You may have your own memory techniques but if not I suggest writing everything down. Putting something down on paper is a good way to commit it to memory.

The wallcharts I suggested at the start (if you can get them) are a great idea because by placing them in a prominent position (mine stay permanently on the wall next to my desk) they act as a constant reminder and reference.

Today I'm just going to cover the consonants that make 'f' and 'p' sounds. As usual, there will be some practice words afterwards but these words will only use consonants and vowels we have covered already so you should be able to read them without too much difficulty.

Name in Thai: ภ สำเภา

Name in English: Por Sumpao (Chinese junk)
Initial: p
Final: p
Class: Low
Usage: Fairly common
Comments: Very little to say. This consonant retains its sound whether used at the beginning or end of a syllable or word, and is the consonant used in the name of the Thai island that is normally transliterated as Phuket.

Name in Thai: ผ ผึ้ง

Name in English: Por Peung (Bee)
Initial: p
Final: p
Class: High
Usage: Fairly common
Comments: There are two consonants that look similar and have the same sound but this is a high class consonant whereas the other is low class.

Name in Thai: พ พาน

Name in English: Por Paan (Floor standing tray)
Initial: p
Final: p
Class: Low
Usage: Fairly common
Comments: This is the low class consonant version

Name in Thai: ฝ ฝา

Name in English: For Faa (Lid, partition, wall)
Initial: f
Final: p
Class: High
Usage: Fairly common
Comments: As with the 'p'consonants above, there are two similar 'f' consonants that make the same sound but they are different consonant classes. This is the high class consonant version.

Name in Thai: ฟ ฟัน

Name in English: For Fun (tooth/teeth)
Initial: f
Final: p
Class: Low
Usage: Fairly common
Comments: This is the low class version. As a final consonant, the 'f' consonants change to an unreleased 'p' sound.

for fun

The name of this bar uses a play on words but of course it won't mean anything unless
you understand a little about written Thai. Hopefully, you understand the pun now.

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Reading Practice

พ่อ

A nice, easy word to begin with. This short word begins with one of the 'p' consonants described above and is followed by the character that can be a zero consonant or sara or. Used like this it makes an or sound.

The Thai word por with a falling tone means father.

Tone: Low-class initial consonant and first tone mark = Falling tone (Tutorial 14)


 

ฝน

This word starts with one of the 'f' sound consonants and ends with an 'n' sound consonant (Tutorial 8). There is no written vowel so we need to add an 'o' sound in between the consonants (Tutorial 12).

The Thai word fon with a very distinctive rising tone means 'rain' and it is also a common girls' nickname.

Tone: High-class initial consonant and live syllable = Rising tone (Tutorial 14)


 

ผม

This is another simple single-syllable, two consonant word that doesn't have a written vowel so you need to add an 'o' between the consonants (Tutorial 12). The initial consonant is a 'p' sound (from today's tutorial) and the final consonant is an 'm' sound (Tutorial 8).

The Thai word pom with a rising tone is the personal pronoun 'I' for male speakers. The same word also means 'hair' as in hair on the head. Thais use a different word for body hair.

Tone: High-class initial consonant and live syllable = Rising tone (Tutorial 14)


 

ภาพ

This word uses two of the consonants from today's tutorial and they are separated by the long 'aa' vowel (Tutorial 7). The 'p' consonants retain their 'p' sound when used as final consonants.

The Thai word paap means picture.

Tone: Low-class initial consonant, dead syllable, long vowel = Falling tone (Tutorial 14)


 

ฟ้า

This should be getting quite easy now. The initial consonant is one of the 'f' consonants from today and it is followed by the long 'aa' vowel. You should also have spotted the second tone mark.

The Thai word faa with a high tone means sky.

Tone: Low-class initial consonant and second tone mark = High tone (Tutorial 14)


 

ฝ้า

At first glance this word looks very similar to the one above but the little loop on the initial consonant is on the inside, and not the outside. It is for fah, not for fun.

These two consonants have a different consonant class and therefore this affects the tone. The Thai word faa with a falling tone can mean different things but the Thais mainly use it for a dark skin blemish.

Tone: High-class initial consonant and second tone mark = Falling tone (Tutorial 14)

The photo below shows a real example. This sign is at a small skin clinic where such blemishes can be treated. Notice how the loop disappears in the font used on the sign.

Thai sign

 


 

กาแฟสด

This is two words. The first word has two syllables and the second word has one syllable. It seems confusing that there should be no space in between Thai words, as there is in English, but once you become familiar with written Thai the problem disappears.

You also need to remember that the grammar structure of Thai is noun-adjective, and not adjective-noun as in English.

The first syllable of the first word is the hard 'g' sound (Tutorial 1) followed by the long 'aa' vowel so we get a 'gaa' sound.

The initial consonant of the second syllable is one of the 'f' consonants as described above for fun. The vowel used in this syllable is written before the consonant and it makes an 'air' sound (Tutorial 16).

We therefore get gaa-fair which is the Thai word for coffee. Benjawan tells us that the first syllable of polysyllabic words is mid tone so what about the second syllable?

Tone: Low-class initial consonant and live syllable = Mid tone (Tutorial 14)

Both syllables of the first word are mid tone.

The second word has two consonants but no written vowel so we have to add an 'implied' 'o' between the consonants (Tutorial 22).

The initial consonant is one of the 's' sounds (Tutorial 10) and the final consonant is dor dek which makes an unreleased 't' sound as a final consonant (Tutorial 6).

The Thai word sot means fresh.

Tone: High-class initial consonant, dead syllable, short vowel = Low tone (Tutorial 14)

Here's a real life example of this phrase:

gaa-fair sot - fresh coffee

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Questions And Feedback

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to contact me. Your feedback will help me to improve these pages.

Recommended Books

Amazon UK

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon US

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Downloadable Worksheets

Downloadable worksheets

The best way to remember the various characters used in Thai script is by writing them down on paper. In addition to improving your writing skills, the very act of writing the characters on paper will commit them to memory.

This is how Thai children learn and it is a very effective approach. The best way to practice your writing is by using the same worksheets that Thai children use. They are available everywhere in Thailand, but a lot more difficult to find outside of Thailand.

Downloadable Worksheets

Visit Thailand

Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.

One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. I always use Agoda to book hotels in Thailand. The company was established in Thailand and has great local knowledge, as well as a huge inventory of hotels.

If you click on one of the destinations opposite you will get a list of hotel deals from Agoda. It's generally a good idea to book on-line because you will get a good room rate and you won't suffer the disappointment of arriving at a hotel to find that it is full.

I book hotels regularly in Thailand and I have always found Agoda to be the best on-line travel agent. At times I have spent a lot of time researching hotel prices and although other deals sometimes look better at first I always end up returning to Agoda.

If you don't wish to pay for your hotel at the time of booking, Booking.com normally allows you to pay when you check in at the hotel. Some people prefer this method, but I have always found Booking.com to be more expensive than Agoda.

If you want to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined. However, you will normally find that Agoda is the cheapest and therefore you can save yourself time and money by just booking through Agoda in the first place.

Images of Thailand

Images of Thailand

 

 

Cities

Beaches

Mountains & Hilltribes

Islands

Interesting

 

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